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Academy Town Square

Academy Town Square Series
Academy Town Square Series

The Academy Town Square series is designed to engage and provide relevant educational content to the public on environmental issues. Academy Town Squares focus on critical global issues in environmental science by featuring prominent thought leaders and their findings on water, climate change, evolution and biodiversity and extinction.

Academy Town Square: Lights Out Philly
Sophia Schmidt in conversation with Brandon Cuffy, Don Haas, Keith Russell, and Jason Weckstein 
Wednesday, May 10, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Co-presented by WHYY and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Lights Out Philly Town Square with dead yellow and black bird

During the fall 2020 migration season, a perfect storm of events led to the tragic deaths of thousands of birds from window strikes. This sorrowful occurrence galvanized a volunteer group called Bird Safe Philly, which is determined to prevent something similar from happening again. Through their Lights Out Philly campaign, the group was able to convince many of the city’s building owners to turn out their lights at night during the spring and fall migration periods.  

Join us for a conversation hosted by Sophia Schmidt, environmental reporter for WHYY, to better understand the challenges that birds face in urban environments and the ways that we can better protect them.

Panelists include:

  • Keith Russel - Bird Safe Philly member, birder, science communicator and Program Manager for Urban Conservation for Audubon Pennsylvania
  • Brandon Cuffy - architectural researcher who develops innovative approaches to protecting urban wildlife habitat through building design
  • Don Haas - General Manager of One, Two, & Three Logan Square, Brandywine Realty Trust, BOMA Philadelphia Sustainability Committee Member and Lights Out Partner
  • Jason Weckstein - Academy of Natural Sciences Curator of Ornithology who has been conducting research using the salvaged birds collected by Lights Out Philly volunteers 

This program is presented in conjunction with the Academy’s current exhibition Conversations With Birds.

Past Academy Town Squares

Academy Town Square: Grasslands: Restoring Bird Habitat

Maiken Scott, host of WHYY's The Pulse, and bird conservationist Zoe Warner discuss a 10-year study conducted in Chester County that has led to greater insights into bird habitat needs and a visionary plan to protect them.

Academy Town Square Presents: Flooding in Philadelphia's Eastwick Community

In this special Academy Town Square, residents of Eastwick will share their challenges as well as their determined spirit — describing the history of a remarkable community organizing effort and raising awareness of what we can do to support it.

Academy Town Square Presents: More Livable Communities in an Era of Climate Change

As we adapt to our changing climate, unexpected benefits may follow — especially for marginalized communities. Efforts to reduce heating and flooding bring more green spaces that are known to strengthen mental health and improve communities. Emergency preparedness efforts create more accessible areas for older and disabled members of the community. Join us to explore how these solutions to climate change provide an opportunity for equity to marginalized Black and Latino communities.

Views and opinions expressed by the speakers are solely their own and do not necessarily represent any associated institutions.

Academy Town Square Presents: Preparing for a Warmer, Wetter Philadelphia

Climate change is causing Philadelphia not only to heat up, but also to experience more frequent and intense flooding events. In this program we’ll explore how local communities are dealing with increasing temperatures exacerbated by the urban heat island effect; natural cycles of flooding; and how urbanization and climate change impact flooding risks in our city. But where there are challenges, there are people ready to step up and face them. Find out how, from community groups to city government, Philadelphians are making efforts to understand and mitigate the effects of a warmer, wetter Philadelphia.

Academy Town Square Presents: Gideon Mendel Drowning World

Gideon Mendel joined us for an Academy Town Square on May 6 to discuss his engagement with social issues as a photographer and artist, including the challenge of making climate change visible.